A Bedford-based televangelist took to the airwaves Tuesday to confess to an extramarital affair, saying he was victim of a blackmail attempt.
The Rev. Marcus Lamb, founder of the Daystar television network, appeared with his wife, Joni, and admitted he had an "inappropriate relationship" with another woman several years ago.
Lamb said three people tried to extort $7.5 million from him to keep the affair quiet. He did not name the people.
The latest news from around North Texas.
A statement on Daystar's website said the couple restored their marriage through counseling.
"After Joni told her husband the Lord convinced her he was worth fighting for, together they submitted to an intense process of repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration," the statement said.
A spokesman for the Lambs, Larry Ross, told the Associated Press they went to authorities with their allegations, but he said he could not discuss specifics for fear of interfering with any investigation. He said the extortion attempt was made within the past few weeks.
Police in Bedford said Tuesday that no crime had been reported but the department confirmed Wednesday that there is a criminal investigation into the allegation.
Mark White, an FBI spokesman in Dallas, said Tuesday that he could not confirm or deny if the agency was investigating.
Without elaborating, Daystar's website said "three people who were not involved in nor affected by their marital situation are now saying that unless Daystar pays them $7.5 million, they will take the story the Lamb's shared on the Tuesday broadcast to the news media."
The couple also told viewers that "this is not a secret issue they were hiding, but rather a personal matter," the statement said.
Joni Lamb described her husband's affair as "an emotional relationship" with a woman that became "an improper relationship."
Daystar is a popular Christian network that has aired broadcasts of a number of high-profile pastors, including Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, and Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas' Potter's House.
The network says it operates more than 70 stations in major U.S. television markets and broadcasts to more than 200 countries.
The Lambs' supporters on the broadcast repeatedly described the affair and the extortion plot as an attempt by the devil to discredit the evangelist couple and their ministry. Daystar is rooted in Pentecostalism, the Christian tradition known for its spirit-filled worship, and its belief in modern-day miracles and everyday battles with evil influences.
"I think this was a direct attack from the devil," Fred Kendall said, although Lamb responded that only he is to blame for his wrongdoing.
The Lambs underwent Christian counseling with Fred and Anna Kendall of the Life Languages Institute.
Lamb said he had contacted his denomination, the Church of God in Cleveland, Tenn., and about 30 other Christian leaders with the news ahead of the broadcast. He also directly addressed viewers, asking for their prayers.
"To our beloved partners and friends," he said, "we're not here to excuse sin, but we are here to celebrate the goodness and the grace of God. He has helped Joni and me."